David Smith: It feels like an insane target for Ironman, but I know I can do it.


When I woke up in 2016, paralyzed, I knew if I wanted to make the most of my new life, I had to set goals for the future.

It began with just being able to brush my teeth, and it grew to want to compete again for the UK and complete a bike ride of 740km through the Alps.

The burning ambition was to win a spot on the podium at a world championship again, but it was sadly made unlikely by the re-growth of the tumor, two more operations in 2018 and radiation in 2019. For now at least.

In 2018, when I joined the ICU, Ironman was something that caught my eye. It was possible that I might go from paralysis to Ironman, I thought.

When I got my Turbomed walking machine and went jogging for the first time in years, I even jokingly listed it in this column a few months ago.

I was thinking a bit more about the possibility of doing an Ironman this week as I looked at my preparation and the objectives I had written down.

For most of them, next year is all about the Tokyo Games, but after getting hit by a car in August and not really having the chance to get back into racing shape, I decided to turn my focus away from UCI cycling and to something else that would certainly challenge me on several levels.

I looked at the Ironman website and planned to write to the Hamburg Ironman organizer on the 6th of June. All of the spots are gone after such a rough 2020, but I hope they see my email and open up a spot for me.

It feels like an insane goal, but I know, deep down, that more than anything, I can do this and want it.

I’ve spoken before about how crucial it is to match them with our philosophy of life as we set goals. We give real sense and importance to our objectives when we do so, and we are less likely to give up pursuing them.

Grit is not enough. To persevere through tough times, we need to activate our dopamine reward pathway. We are more likely to remain focused on our target every day if we do that, and not give up.

As a “feel-good” chemical, dopamine is sometimes confused. It’s a motivator in fact. This inspires us to take initiative, at the end of which there is an award. In expectation of a reward, dopamine is also secreted. It is this assumption that inspires us to do more and allows us to keep going when things get tough.

As 2021 approaches, it’s worth thinking about and you start thinking about stuff you want to achieve. It will be an effective method, in January in particular.

A neurochemical called norepinephrine is released into a portion of the brain when we feel like we are struggling. This is an integral component of the system of our body, but too much of it can cause problems. When they get too high, it is one of the chemicals that causes us to avoid things.

We can succeed in reducing norepinephrine buildup by tuning into the dopamine reward pathway.

Why is it important to know this? Since your resilience level can be helped by only being conscious of this chemical method.

You should think about why you are doing this and how it is related to your purpose when you start thinking about leaving. Dopamine is released by linking your aim to a reason and you find something that keeps you moving.

This is how I’ve educated my mind to keep me going for the past 11 years, as I’ve been living from surgery to surgery, and I know it works. In the next six months, it will be a significant instrument for me to get into the form of an Ironman.

Completing an Ironman is no easy feat and I will have some difficult workouts ahead of me with strict cut-off times.

I decided to test my swimming because I won’t even have the opportunity to get on a bike if I can’t do that. It’s a 3.8 km swim, and you’ve got two hours and 20 minutes to finish it.

So, I was on my way to the pool for a training session yesterday, and I had a really bad fall just as I got there. It’s just part of life with a spinal injury. But after picking myself up off the ground, I jumped into the pool and pushed off. About 4 km later, I realized I had swum the Ironman distance and also under the cut-off time.

During the swim, I occasionally told myself why I was doing this, and I could feel the dopamine surges.



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